EVEN decades after attaining independence, many African countries still rely heavily on foreign aid in terms of concessional, soft loans as well as grants to fund internal development projects and provide social services to their people.
It is well known that the foreign aid in either form comes with so many strings attached to them to the extent that the donors are the ones calling the shots from the backdoors, and hence, bringing in the new form of colonialism christened neo-colonialism.
Worse still, some of the African leaders have been pocketing the funds for their good, at the expense of the very poor people whom they had promised “honey and milk” upon attainment of independence.
This has made many African countries to plummet further into poverty with the majority remaining poor and lack basic social needs in the health care, education, provision of clean and safe water as well as enabling infrastructure for economic activities.
The trend went on for some years until some of the countries decided otherwise; that the only solution was to focus on mobilization of domestic sources and ceiling loopholes of misappropriation of public funds.
The newly devised and well-thought strategy has worked quite perfectly for the government of Tanzania under the presidency of the now deceased Dr John Magufuli.
The fifth president of the East African nation was elected for the first term and sworn in as president in November 2015, but breathed his last on 17 March, 2021, while serving his last term which would have climaxed 2025 in the second re-election on October 2020.
Few days after assuming the presidency in late 2015, the bold leader embarked on well-designed tax collection and management systems and enforced stringent measures against corruption and mismanagement of public funds.
Within a short period of his leadership, Dr Magufuli managed to boost tax revenues from 800bn/- per month to over 1.3trl. This enabled the government to provide free education from primary to secondary schools, let alone the beneficiaries of loans into institutions of higher learning increasing significantly.
Mobilization of local resources facilitated the government to as well improve the health sector. Many hospitals have been constructed across the country equipped with modern equipment and trained medical personnel.
Major infrastructure projects such as the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), Nyerere Hydro-Power Project (NHPP) in addition completed and undergoing construction of bridges and road networks have been implemented with locally sourced funds.
The secret behind the improved revenue collections, among others, was the implementation of electronic solutions for collection of taxes, levies and other duties.
Through the technology the government has been in a position to effectively tap requisite taxes and curbing cheating by some dishonest producers, importers and distributors.
The digital solutions did not only increase revenues but also played a crucial role in proper management of public funds for recurrent expenditure and execution of development projects.
These measures include the Electronic Fiscal Devise Management System (EFDMS), Government e-Payment System Gateway System (GePGs) and Tanzania Customs Integrated System (TANCIS).
On the other hand, the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) introduced the Electronic Tax Stamps Management System (ETMS) for products which are subjected to excise duty.
The tax collector contracted a Swiss company, Société Industrielle et Commerciale de Produits Alimentaires (SICPA) which provides both software and hardware for the technology. Application of the digital stamps for the excisable goods has enabled TRA to track actual production at factories and imports and eventually facilitate collection of requisite taxes and curb fake products in the local market.
Being a big country with porous borders, Tanzania has been facing a challenge of substandard and smuggled products which do not only deny the government of taxes but poses health risks to consumers and creating unfair playing grounds for local producers.
In his eulogy of Dr Magufuli at the Jamhuri Stadium in Dodoma on Monday, the President of South African, Cyril Ramaphosa described the fallen Tanzanian leader as Pan-Africanist and true son of the continent.
Adding: “I would always ask Dr Magufuli, are you afraid of airplanes because I don’t see you flying frequently? His answer would be I don’t want to travel to the shores, but instead remain in my country and work for the betterment of my people.”
The same sentiments were shared by the President of Malawi, Dr Lazaraus Chakwera, who had hinted on how some foreign forces had wondered whether there could be an African president who will be bold enough to curb corruption or not rely on foreign aid.
“President Magufuli proved them wrong and we are really proud of him. Tanzania has lost a true leader who cared for the people,” the Malawian remarked at the filled to capacity stadium in the capital city of Dodoma.